Kauai: The Garden Isle

So you’ve decided to vacation in Hawaii and you chose to stay on the island of Kaui. The Nickname of Kauai is “The Garden Isle” due to it being mostly a tropical rainforest. Here are some of the ‘Must Do’ activities on the island:

1. Doors Off Helicopter Ride

One of the first things I signed up for when I arrived to the island was a helicopter ride, but not just any kind of helicopter ride… It didn’t have doors! This is a great activity for those thrill seekers, but also of you want to get great shots without the reflection of the window. I took the tour with Jack Harter Helicopter Tours and loved the information dialogue our pilot had to offer about the history of the island.

We flew past the Napali Coast and over Waimea Canyon. We even saw many of the shots that were filmed in the new Jurassic Park movies! Definitely a great way to see the island from a different vantage point.

2. Doors On Helicopter Ride

With that being said, there is an age limit fe the doors off helicopter ride, so if you have small children or prefer to have a nice calm air-conditioned ride, doors on may be a better fit for you. Since I spent most of my doors off ride getting pictures, I decided to relax with a doors on ride with Blue Hawaiian Helicopters. Again, the pilot was very personable and had a wealth of knowledge about the island.

3. Speed Boat Ride: Napali Coast

Go Blue Adventures was so much fun! Sit up front if you want to feel that wind in your face and the thrill of speed, but be prepared to hold of for dear life! During this tour you will fly over waves and zip through caves. You’ll most likely see dolphins and if you’re lucky, swim with sea turtles.

They provide drinks and snacks and even take those instagramable pictures jumping off the boat in front of the Napali Coastline. Warning: I sat in the very front for most of the day and by the end I had blisters from holding on so tight and my arms were like noodles lol. So worth it though!

4. Scuba Diving: Kauai

While snorkeling is still a great option for those not PADI certified, I highly recommend doing some scuba diving if you are able to. I first went with Fathom Five Divers off the coast of Kauai and saw a TON of huge sea turtles! We didn’t have to venture too far to see some pretty cool marine life. Snacks and drinks are offered on the boat. I was lucky to have Jordan as my dive master. He was so knowledgeable about all the coal and underwater life we passed and even pulled out his book to offer more information on what we saw.

5. Scuba Diving: Ni’ihau

Ni’ihau is a private island owned by the Robinson family. However, indigenous Hawaiian still live on the island and you are only allowed to step foot on land if you are the Robinson family or invited by the Native Hawaiians that live there. You are allowed to scuba dive in the area though.

I took a 2hr speedboat ride with Bubbles Below Divers out to the dive site. While it is a wildly expensive dive, around $500 for 3 dives, I feel like it was an incredible experience! They provided all the equipment, including nitrox tanks, along with lunch, snacks, and drinks.

During the three dives, we swam with Monk Seals, Sandbar Sharks, and went through volcanic arches. There were neon coral and Large schools of fish all round! Truly a beautiful undereater world.

6. Hike To Queens Bath

There is limited parking and it’s kind of a hidden trail to Queens Bath, but if you can find it, you won’t be disappointed. The trail is pretty short, and although uncomfortable, I made the hike in flip flops.

Once you make it to the lava rocks, there are small pools you can swim in depending on the current. Note that you are swimming at your own risk and there have been people hurt doing so. However, if you don’t want to risk the swim, it is a pretty place to watch the sunset.

7. Hike Wailua Falls

This is another “hike at your own risk” trail. To see the falls, you can just drive the winding road to the lookout. But if you want to swim at the bottom of the fall, you must find the hidden “trail” by climbing over the wall.

I use the term “trail” losely because it’s more of a steep, slippery, muddy, trail that is marked out by old footprints and ropes that people have left behind to help you get down there. Definitely go at your own risk.

8. Hike The Napali Coast

The Napali Coast Trail is also known as the Kalalau Trail and spans 11 miles across the Napali Coast. In 2018 there was terrible flood that damaged the coastline along with many houses in the area. The trail had been closed for over a year, but opened up the week I was visiting.

It is free to Hawaii residents, but visitors must purchase a $5 permit to visit. Previously, there would be over 3,000 visitors/day hiking the trail, but with the new permit rule, they are only offering 900/day. You don’t have to hike 11 miles to get beautiful views! We went about 3 miles in to the first beach. Definitely bring lots of water and sunscreen!

9. Hanalei Pier

Catch the sunset… Or dinner… At Hanalei Pier. On the pier you can see people jumping off one side and swimming in the ocean. And on the other side, locals fishing! But we were there to catch the orange/pink/red/stunning sunset. There’s something so peaceful about the sun resting on a perfect day.

10. Sugar Cane Factory Tubing

This was once activity I wasn’t able to do since tickets were booked out for 2 month in advance! The Lihue Plantation was hand dug back in the 1870’s, but is now open to the public for water tubing down the canals! I’d seen videos and pictures of it, but didn’t realize how quickly it filled up! Tubing Lihue Plantation

For more pictures and videos from this trip to Kauai, check out my Highlights on my Instagram @offtheclocknurse

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